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Kavanaugh Accuser Tentatively Agrees to Testify Thursday; Comcast Outbids Fox for Purchase of Sky; U.S.-North Korea Relations; Iran Blames U.S. and Regional Allies for Ahvaz Attack; Flooding Expected to Worsen in South Carolina; Japan Lands Robot Rovers on Ryugu's Surface. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired September 23, 2018 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Negotiations lead to a tentative deal now. The woman accusing President Trump's Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault has agreed to testify. We'll have the White House's response that this hour.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Plus Iran fires back following a deadly attack at an military parade. We'll have the story for you.

ALLEN (voice-over): Also this hour, residents deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Yes, flooding is still happening one week on.

HOWELL (voice-over): Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN (voice-over): And I'm Natalie Allen. NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: At 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast, the woman accusing the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault has agreed to testify. This coming week, the question, will the hearing be public or private?

She's agreed to testify as we mentioned. This is something that people will be watching. The Senate committee hearing will happen on Thursday. One topic that is still being negotiated, though, will be, of course, whether someone will be able to determine if this will be public or private.

ALLEN: Either way, the hearing will captivate the U.S. political world. Research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford accusing Kavanaugh of assaulting her during a house party when they were both teenagers.

Critics who fear Kavanaugh could undermine women's rights if confirmed say this allegation speaks to his character. But Kavanaugh firmly denies the accusation.

HOWELL: And now the White House is responding to the news the accuser has agreed to testify. CNN's Sarah Westwood reports.


SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House is now officially responding to Christine Blasey Ford's decision to accept that offer to testify next week after senior aides signaled frustration with the prospect of more delays.

A White House spokesperson had this to say about the latest step and talks between the Senate Judiciary Committee and Ford.

"Brett Kavanaugh has been clear from the beginning. He categorically and unequivocally denies this allegation and is eager to testify publicly to defend his integrity and clear his good name.

"On Monday, Brett Kavanaugh met with committee counsel to answer questions subject to criminal penalties and offered to testify publicly Tuesday morning."

Then she goes on to say, "Since then we have heard about different dates, conditions and ever-changing schedules. But today we appear no closer to a fair hearing. But one thing has remained consistent, Brett Kavanaugh remains ready, willing and eager to testify as soon as possible."

Now the White House and some Republicans had initially expressed skepticism that Ford's response meant they were any closer to having this issue be resolved. And judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley had hoped to hold a confirmation vote at one point as soon as Monday.

But sources telling Manu Raju and Ariane de Vogue here that they did reach that tentative agreement to do a hearing on Thursday and that news of that tentative agreement by the way, emerged just minutes after the White House released that statement saying that the Senate Judiciary Committee appeared no closer to a hearing.

This is dragging it out from the White House's perspective, but it's granting Ford's request that she would be allowed more time to prepare before she appears before the Judiciary Committee.


ALLEN: Let's bring this down with Leslie Vinjamuri, head of the U.S. and the Americas program at Chatham House. She joins us live from London.

Aways a pleasure to have your insights.


ALLEN: I don't know how you categorize this one in the stories that have rocked the country since President Trump took office. But here we are after the back-and-forth of charge and denial. It appears there's a hearing this week and Professor Ford will appear. And so will separately Judge Kavanaugh.

What do you make of the process that got us to this point?

VINJAMURI: Well, the process has been characterized, as with many things during this presidency but perhaps even more so by deep division, bipartisanship, by very difficult politics.

And it is a decision that has been -- seemed to have been made now that there is a testimony and a hearing. That question of whether it is public is very significant, because if you look at the data, there is very deep division along partisan lines and gender lines.

But there are a lot of Americans that don't have a view on Kavanaugh. There are about 3 in 10 polled that are not sure about him. And if it's a public hearing and they are watching, it could have a significant effect on that population not decided.

ALLEN: Right, we'll talk about that. Because for --


ALLEN: -- a country that is not decided on Kavanaugh, look at what is at stake if he comes to the Supreme Court. So this would be a major test for this country.

And also, Leslie, a test perhaps as we see this drama shake out this week on the women's movement that came into play when Donald Trump took office. The question is, how will Republicans handle the sensitive issue of a woman alleging sexual assault?

We heard -- we heard Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, talk about that on Friday. And he let everyone know where he stands on that. Let's listen to his comment really quickly and get you to respond.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: He wants to fight, you watched the tactics but here's what I want to tell you. In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court. So my friends, keep the faith. don't get rattled by all of this. We're going to blow right through it and do our job.


ALLEN: When you hear the Republican leader saying he's going to plow right through this, does it sound like they're doing their job?

VINJAMURI: Well, if you view at how the Americans are viewing this, the plurality of women don't think Kavanaugh should be confirmed. And a plurality of men think he should be. It's clearly deeply divided on gender lines and will, I suspect, get much worse.

In the context where the #MeToo movement has been a galvanizing force not only in the United States but to hear the language that the hearings of the allegations won't be taken seriously, it's politically not very savvy, I would suggest.

But it's more significantly going to have a very important consequence, I think, as we go forward. The couple of things here, one is that the trust that Americans have in the institutions of the U.S. government has declined but particularly with the respect to the Supreme Court.

This is supposed to be the one part of American government, which is independent of politics. And it simply is not seen that way anymore. And when you put that into context now of this particular confirmation and the allegations of sexual harassment, it's going to become that level of trust is likely to fall even more.

But as we head up to the midterms, depending on what happens with the Kavanaugh confirmation, I think that the question of women being active in politics, it's going to -- this will become a very divisive issue and will mobilize female voters and will certainly be something that the Democrats are going to play up as we move forward.

ALLEN: And as we see this play out this week, how careful should Republicans be in their handling of this story?

And Professor Ford, whom, we want to remind our viewers, has been threatened. And her security is a huge factor in how they move forward here with her coming forward this week.

VINJAMURI: Yes, it clearly -- the allegations need to be taken very seriously. Republicans, I think, are aware, especially if you look at people like Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, they know how difficult this issue is. This certainly has been a candidate that has not been an obvious candidate for Supreme Court justice for them.

But then you add this layer and it needs to be taken seriously. And the potential for backlash by female voters against the Republicans is very significant.

And when you consider that those hearings are going to -- we're talking about the Senate Judiciary Committee, the members of which are the Republican members, all of which are male, the optics are likely to be very difficult to manage. And I'm sure that the Republicans are thinking very carefully about their strategy right now.

ALLEN: We always appreciate your insights, Leslie Vinjamuri, thank you.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

HOWELL: The United States is condemning Saturday's terror attack in Iran. Iranian state media report gunmen disguised as security forces opened fire on a military parade, an attack killing 29 people.

ALLEN: The Iranian officials blamed separatists but they also say the attackers had foreign support from countries like the United States and Saudi Arabia.

HOWELL: The U.S. State Department had this to say about the Iranian people, not the government. Quote, "We stand with the Iranian people against the scourge of the radical Islamic terrorism and express our sympathy to them at this terrible time."

That military parade was being broadcast on television when the gunmen opened fire.


ALLEN: In addition to the 29 people killed there, state media says dozens were wounded. Footage shows soldiers, women and children, as you can see right here, scrambling for cover.

HOWELL: (INAUDIBLE) state media (INAUDIBLE) fired from behind the audience.

Following the story is Sam Kiley. He's live in Abu Dhabi with more.

Sam, what more are we hearing from the Iranian leadership about all this?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, there were four people involved, so far as we understand from Iranian authorities, in this attack. The two survivors have been captured. We are not quite sure what state they are in, but no doubt they will be providing a degree of intelligence to the government of Hassan Rouhani and the Iranian president himself has repeated the claim coming from the Iranian, that this was a plot that had its genesis in his view in Saudi Arabia and the United States and in what he calls small Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates.

Reuters is reporting that the Iranian foreign ministry has now summoned the Iranian top diplomat in Iran to the foreign ministry to answer this allegation and perhaps other allegations being reported, that there was some intemperate tweeting not yet proven any link between tweets, suggesting this was not a terror attack but a legitimate military target.

Nevertheless, this diplomat has been summoned in Tehran. What it does is once again illustrate the incredibly high degree of tensions between the Shia dominating theocracy Iran and the Sunni states, notably within the Gulf Corporation Council, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Those two countries are prosecuting a war or contributing to civil war inside Yemen against proxies from Iran, notably Hezbollah, which has come to the aid of the Houthis, the Shia separatists or insurgents, if you like, inside Yemen.

So this in the context of that is an illustration of what the Iranians are saying. It's something they could have expected, not the least because the Saudis have been talking about promoting internal dissent to try to topple the theocracy in Tehran. That is a position also shared, George, by the Trump administration.

So in that context, of course, it's not that surprising that Mr. Rouhani would blame the United States because it is the United States and our allies that have been calling not for violence, I stress, but for some kind of pressure to be brought on the Rouhani regime, a regime that is subjected to very stringent international sanctions, particularly from the United States following the American suspension of their participation in the deal that allegedly put an end to the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

HOWELL: Again, so Iran pointing the finger at the United States and at regional allies.

Is there a concern in Iran, given as you point out that the United States backed out of the nuclear deal under the Obama administration, is there concern that what happened here could be more of that to come?

KILEY: Well, that is certainly a line being pushed out by President Rouhani and his administration. This coming almost on the eve of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where the Trump administration and Donald Trump himself will be speaking in the middle of the week.

He's slated to chair a Security Council meeting, in which he hopes to make Iran a top part of the agenda. President Rouhani and the Iranians are expected to speak on Tuesday to lay out their stall in terms of trying to keep the nuclear deal going because it's the Americans that have backed out but the other signatories, including many in Europe, Britain and France, have not.

HOWELL: Sam Kiley, live for us in Abu Dhabi, thank you so much for the reporting. We'll keep in touch with you.

ALLEN: A major business story we'll be following next for you has to do with Sky TV in the U.K. and this company right here just made a bid to buy it.

HOWELL: Plus, a year after threats and insults, North Korea appears to be making friends with Seoul and Washington. A look at the changing Korean Peninsula as CNN NEWSROOM pushes ahead.





ALLEN: If content is king, this story illustrates that it certainly is a battle of media titans, Comcast versus 21st Century Fox.

HOWELL: And now we know who came out on top of this, the prize, Europe's biggest paid TV broadcaster, Sky. Comcast came out on top. But now the ball is in the Sky shareholders' court. Our Anna Stewart has more.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The bidding battle for Sky is finally over with Comcast emerging victorious. Now it's taken 21 months, multiple bids and, at the end, the take of a panel here in the U.K. The regulator called an end to the saga by announcing a very rare event, an auction.

This is something like a penalty shoot-out of the U.K. Pick of the World. This was three rounds of bidding over some 26 hours.

Comcast emerged victorious as the winner at $22.57. And 21st Century Fox was 15.67 pounds and that is $20.46 a share. Ultimately this means that Comcast is valuing Sky at nearly $40 billion, which is actually far more than its current market cap of $35.6 billion.

Now the reason for all this, both Disney, which is in the process of buying Fox, and Comcast, wanted to buy Sky to help diversify a wave in the United States. Increasingly, it is hard to grow there against the changing media landscape. Of course, online streaming means they have new rivals like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu.

And Sky would have enabled them to do just that with a huge European distribution network, 23 million customers as well as content, very valuable things like Premier League football rights and its own online streaming service NOW TV.

Now although Comcast may have won the bid it is not quite signed, sealed and delivered yet. Next, Comcast and Fox both have to officially announce their final bidding offers and they will do that before 7:00 am on Monday before the market opens.

Then they publish a document to that effect by Thursday. And then it is over to Sky. Now the board will recommend one of the offers, which will likely be Comcast at this stage, and shareholders have until the end of Thursday, the 11th of October, to approve it -- Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


HOWELL: And Britain's opposition Labour leader is out with a challenge for the prime minister, Theresa May.

ALLEN: The U.K. government insisted it will not capitulate to the European Union's demands in Brexit talks.

HOWELL: Jeremy Corbyn is now warning the British prime minister --


HOWELL: -- to be ready for a potential general election.


JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: We will challenge this government on whatever deal it brings back on our six tests, on jobs, on living standards, on environmental protection and protection of those jobs and the ability of an incoming Labour government to invest and intervene in an economy to bring about decent wages, jobs and full employment. (APPLAUSE)

CORBYN: And if this government can't deliver, then I simply say to Theresa May, the best way to settle this is by having a general election.


ALLEN: Jeremy Corbyn not the only one with a message for Ms. May, the original champion of Brexit, Nigel Farage, along with the prime minister's former Brexit secretary, David Davis are calling for a new plan over free trade and the Irish border issues.


DAVID DAVIS, FORMER BREXIT SECRETARY: She has to recognize, I think, that the European Union is not accepting Chequers, that the next option is to find a new strategy. That new strategy ought to be a free trade plus strategy, complete with our own Irish strategy, Northern Irish strategy. And that is the way -- and that way she will carry the Tory Party with her and a good part of the Labour Party.



NIGEL FARAGE, UKIP: The Chequers idea, where we are half in and we're half out, we're out in name only but not in reality, doesn't work for the European Union. It doesn't work actually for those of us in this country that voted for Brexit. It has very little support in our party or in the country. That needs to go.


HOWELL: Farage and Davis were at a Leave means Leave rally this weekend in the northwest of England. The event comes after the prime minister admitted the Brexit talks had hit an impasse with Brussels.

For decades, China has chosen its own Catholic bishops without Vatican approval but that's about to change.

ALLEN: The Vatican has just signed a landmark agreement with the Communist country that will allow the Vatican to approve or veto candidates. The Vatican spokesman calls this a step toward bridging a gap between China and the church.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The objective of the accord is not political but it's pastoral. What that means is that the faithful in China, that they have bishops who are in communion with the pope but, at the same time, recognized by the Chinese authorities.

It is also important to remember that while it's come to fruition under Pope Francis, Pope Benedict had a letter to Chinese Catholics in 2007. He was working for the same goal. John Paul II had made legitimate -- a number of illegitimately ordained bishops.

So this is really the work of 30 years and three pontificates.


ALLEN: Lithuania there, the backdrop because the pope is there right now. He just celebrated mass with faithful Catholics. It's day two of his tour of the Baltic nations, where he's sharing a message of solidarity and peace for countries who spent decades under Soviet oppression.

HOWELL: In the coming hours, Pope Francis will visit the museum of occupations and fights for freedom. That's a former KGB prison. He'll also pray at a monument for the victims the Jewish ghetto in World War II. And then he'll set off for Latvia and Estonia.

World leaders are gearing up for high-level debates at this year's U.N. General Assembly.

ALLEN: In the geopolitical landscape between the U.S. and the Korean Peninsula, it couldn't be different from where it was during last year's General Assembly. For more about that, CNN's Paula Hancocks is in South Korea.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are a few key days coming up when it comes to the denuclearization of North Korea. South Korean president Moon Jae-in will be traveling to the United States to brief the U.S. president Donald Trump on his three-day summit with Kim Jong- un.

And he will effectively be putting the ball back in the U.S.' court. Now we already know that Kim Jong-un wants a second summit with the U.S. president. He sent a letter to Mr. Trump. The White House has said they are open to it.

President Moon will be reinforcing that message. He has said that Kim Jong-un told him he really wants another summit as soon as possible so that he can continue with denuclearization very quickly.

Now there are plenty of critics in the U.S., including within the Trump administration, that believe that Mr. Trump should not be rewarding the North Korean leader with a second summit when there haven't been tangible results on the steps toward denuclearization.

The other tangible result that President Moon believes he will be going to the U.S. with is that Kim Jong-un has agreed to shutdown the key missile site and he will be allowing international experts, he says, in to verify that process.

In addition to that, if the U.S. has corresponding measures, then North Korea will agree to shutdown its Yongbyon nuclear facility.

[05:25:00] HANCOCKS: President Moon did have a press conference with journalists as soon as he got back to Seoul from the summit. And I asked him, what exactly are these corresponding measures?

And he effectively said that it was to end hostilities against North Korea, which means an end to the Korean War, which was signed by an armistice, not a peace treaty, back in 1953. And this is something that both North and South Korea have been very clear about. They both want to end the Korea War, to have that declaration and to have a peace treaty.

Now certainly so far the U.S. response appears to have been positive to this three-day summit. So President Moon will be heading to the U.S. and also to the United Nations General Assembly knowing that there is this positive response, that the U.S. is willing to restart negotiations.

But the issue remains the same. It is all about timing and order. The U.S. wants denuclearization and they will follow that with a declaration of the end of the Korean War and concessions. North Korea wants it exactly the opposite way -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


HOWELL: Paula, thank you.

Again, following the new Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, if confirmed, he would be the second sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice accused of sexual misdeeds.

ALLEN: Will history repeat itself almost 30 years after this woman, Anita Hill, testified against Justice Clarence Thomas?

More about that when we come back here on CNN NEWSROOM.




how To our viewers here in the United States and around the world, live from our studios in Atlanta, Georgia, I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen.



ALLEN: And we turn now to the U.S., the woman accusing U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault has agreed for now in the back-and-forth, as you know, to testify in the Senate committee hearing on Thursday.

Negotiations are set to continue in a few hours between both sides. And we're told that will include whether the hearing should be public.

HOWELL: The research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford accuses Kavanaugh of assaulting her. She says it happened during a house party when they were both teenagers. Judge Kavanaugh denies the allegations.

The drama surrounding Kavanaugh's nomination is drawing comparisons to a controversy to grip the country more than 25 years ago.

ALLEN: Just take a look at the new cover of "Time" magazine, featuring a 1991 image of then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas looming over current nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The headline?

"What's Changed?"

HOWELL: You'll remember back in 1991, Anita Hill testified under oath that she suffered sexual harassment by then nominee and now Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. Tom Foreman has this story for us.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two federal judges conservative nominees for the Supreme Court. Two women, reluctant witnesses from the men's past, accusing them of sexual misconduct.

What is else is similar?



FOREMAN (voice-over): In 1991 when law professor Anita Hill said her boss, Clarence Thomas, sexually harassed her in the '80s, she offered details of routine advances and lewd comments.

HILL: He talked about pornographic materials, depicting individuals with large penises or large breasts involved in various sex acts. On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess.

CLARENCE THOMAS, THEN-U.S. SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: This is a circus. It's a national disgrace.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Thomas forcefully denied it all.

THOMAS: And from my standpoint as a black American as far as I'm concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way dare to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Professor Christine Blasey Ford, is also laying out details, saying, at a high school party, Kavanaugh pushed me into a bedroom, climbed on top of her and try to disrobe me. And Kavanaugh just like Thomas, is saying this is a completely false

allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: They began with the Roy Moore revelation by Kellyanne Conway. It ends with Charlie Rose, accused of unwanted sexual advances toward women.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Accusations of sexual harassment against powerful movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

FOREMAN: So what's different?

The times above all else. On the roaring tide of the #MeToo Movement, many powerful men are being held accountable for alleged and, in some cases, admitted sexual wrongs.

An ABC News "Washington Post" poll earlier this year found 72 percent of Americans feel sexual harassment is a big problem compared to 17 percent just before Anita Hill made her case. So Hill is saying Kavanaugh's accuser can't be taken lightly and this time even some in the judge's corner agree.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: She should not be insulted. She should not be ignored.

FOREMAN: The real question of course is what comes next?

For all of the uproar and a very close vote, Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court. And it remains to be seen if Kavanaugh can also weather the storm and come out on top -- Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Of course, referencing back to Anita Hill there in 1991, she is a professor --


ALLEN: -- at Brandeis University today in Boston.

Well, earlier our colleague Ana Cabrera spoke with Emma Jordan. She was on the legal team back in 1991 that helped prepare Ms. Hill for that historic appearance. Here's part of that interview.


EMMA JORDAN, MEMBER OF ANITA HILL'S LEGAL TEAM: We are working in a situation that is the same in some ways to the way it was in 1991 and different.

Some of the similarities are that some of the same senators are on this committee, Hatch is on the committee and we've got Leahy.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Grassley and Leahy are the other ones. JORDAN: Grassley and Leahy are on the committee. So, there are similarities. Some of the techniques that are being used to characterize her are similar. Senator Hatch has said she's mixed up.

And for Anita Hill, he held up a copy of "The Exorcist," saying that the stories she -- her account of what Clarence Thomas said was taken from fiction.

So this idea of trying to diminish the importance of a woman's experience, unfortunately for some on the committee, there's no progress.

I think it is crucial that the country see our elected representatives interact with this witness. The idea of hiring outside counsel, a woman, to question her, this is not the kind of leadership we expect.


HOWELL: Emma Jordan also says Ford's legal team has grown and will help her navigate the complexities of what is to come.

It was 27 years ago that the former vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, that he was the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. That year was 1991. And he presided over the confirmation hearings of the Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas at the time.

That's where Anita Hill's accusations of sexual harassment against then nominee took center stage.

ALLEN: Hill has long been critical of Biden's approach to those hearings. Last week, she said she had yet to receive a direct apology from the former vice president. Here's Joe Biden's reply.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm sorry, I couldn't have stopped the kind of attacks that came to you. But I never attacked her. I supported her. I believed her from the beginning. And I voted against Clarence Thomas.


HOWELL: That episode, which draws parallels to the Kavanaugh confirmation process, in the midst of sexual assault allegations, it looms over Biden as he considers the presidential run for 2020.

We want to recap the story we have been tracking out of Iran, the country is launching new accusations after a deadly terror attack. The state media reports the gunmen opened fire on Saturday at a military parade in southwestern Iran.

ALLEN: At least 29 people were killed here. Officials blame separatists but they also say the attackers had foreign support from countries like the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. For how this plays into Iranian and global politics, we're joined from Tehran by Nasser Haidan. He's a professor of political science at Tehran University. Thank you so much for joining us.

First of all want to --


ALLEN: -- thank you. Let's play the recent comments from Mr. Rouhani on what happened.


HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The small puppets, what we have seen in the region are backed by the United States and they are giving them the necessary capabilities to commit these crimes.

These crimes will not have no effect of the will of our people and our past. Our people have withstood great crimes. Iran's response is forthcoming within the framework of law and our national interest. The perpetrators will be arrested and brought to justice.


ALLEN: All right.

So can you talk to us about the Iranian response to this and the charges that they believe Saudi Arabia and the United States could be behind it?

NASSER HAIDAN, TEHRAN UNIVERSITY: Yes, the perception is it was a very sophisticated act. The perception is it was organized, supported or trained by other countries. So these other countries predominantly means basically Saudi Arabia.

And because the United States is supporting Saudi Arabia, so Iran would take both of them responsible for the actions of the terrorist group.

But also the belief is this act, which was clearly a terrorist act, should have condemned by everyone, including the Europeans. The expectation is there is no justification for such a violent act --


HAIDAN: -- to killing the innocent people. So if you do not want to use the government standoff, so Europe should not be supportive of basically such a kind of a group.

I was listening to ABC Persia last night and myself and the spokesman for this terrorist group basically had a chance to say, yes, we accepted the act. It was done by ourselves. They accepted the responsibility of the act.

So this is (INAUDIBLE) if it is a terrorist group, why should you support (INAUDIBLE)? It is based in Europe and Europe is supporting it. So it is not something which is well received among the average citizen (INAUDIBLE).

ALLEN: Is there a concern that there could be more of this?

And what would more of a destabilized Iran mean to the wider picture of what is going on in the Middle East, vis-a-vis the Syrian war?

HAIDAN: Not at all. There is not even an iota of (INAUDIBLE) concern regarding this destabilization of Iran. Such a kind of act surely is -- it has already happened. And it will happen again in the future, not just in that part of -- on that part of the country. It happened last year in Tehran, in the congress, in the parliament of Iran.

So it will happen again in different parts of Iran. So by no means, they can destabilize in. This is not such a kind of action if it happens in France, if it happens in Britain, if it happens in U.S., no one is saying that, OK, such a kind of act can destabilize France or Britain or U.S.

So these kind of things can happen in Iran, too. So the government is (INAUDIBLE) I can't deal with these issues. But it doesn't mean that (INAUDIBLE) actions are not going to (INAUDIBLE).

Yes, they're going to happen. But the point is, what will be the reaction of not only (INAUDIBLE) or international community?

We should see whole international community are going to be rebuilt (ph). This is like if, for instance, there is a terrorist actions in the metro station, subway station in U.S., we come and (INAUDIBLE) the path for (INAUDIBLE) or resentment against the Britain. And so that's why we took such action.

Or about the twin tower (INAUDIBLE). Just imagine we give them a path (INAUDIBLE), they announce that, OK, they have the resentment against the U.S. so that's why we took such a kind of action.

So such a kind of action and those who perpetuate (INAUDIBLE) these kind of actions should not be given the platform, should not be supported, should not be trained, should not be financed. And anyone doing it should be condemned.

ALLEN: All right. We so appreciate your input, your insights in the situation that we'll continue to follow, of course, Nasser Haidan in Tehran, thank you so much.

HAIDAN: You're welcome. Thanks a lot.

HOWELL: We're following the flooding in North Carolina, South Carolina. People there hope the worst is behind them as they try to start to rebuild after the devastating Hurricane Florence.




ALLEN: In Southern California, there is yet another brush fire that has quickly grown to about 3,000 acres or 1,200 hectares.

The flames erupted Saturday in Los Angeles County.

HOWELL: More than 100 firefighters are fighting that fire. It's now just 10 percent contained. Officials say no structures have been damaged and at this point no injuries have been reported. But, my goodness, you can just see the devastation there.

From flames to flooding now in the state of North Carolina, people are still feeling the effects after what was Hurricane Florence. The rain has stopped but plenty of floodwater, the rivers that are swelling from all of the water. Officials are urging people to stay vigilant as new areas continue to flood without warning.

ALLEN: South Carolina also facing a continued dire situation. That picture right there tells you the story. Rainwater is moving downstream now, potentially putting thousands of people in danger in the coming days.

HOWELL: And the city of Conway is seeing some of the worst flooding in the state.



ALLEN: Speaking of awe, two rovers from Japan landing on an asteroid somewhere between Earth and Mars. We'll talk more about that when we come back.





ALLEN: Japan's space agency launching an unmanned rocket into space carrying supplies for the International Space Station, including 5 tons of water, spare parts and experiments.

HOWELL: The cargo ship is expected to arrive at the space station on Thursday, where the crew will use a robotic arm to capture it. The rocket will then return to Earth, where it is set to burn up in the Pacific.

Saturday was already historic for Japan's space agency. Its two unmanned rovers successfully landed on an asteroid. And these images just amazing to look at. The agency says they are in good condition and transmitting images and data.

ALLEN: The tiny robot separated from the spacecraft and landed --


ALLEN: -- on the asteroid. That asteroid between Earth and Mars. Earlier I spoke with retired astronaut Leroy Chiao about this achievement.


LEROY CHIAO, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: The spacecraft, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft itself is about the size of a very large refrigerator. And the rovers are a little smaller and were deployed successfully as you saw in the news and have gone down to the surface, which is pretty incredible because the Ryugu itself is only 1 kilometer in diameter.

And the gravity level on the asteroid is about 180 thousandths (ph) of the Earth. So to be able to put a lander down on that low gravity asteroid is pretty incredible. These things are not traditional rovers. They're actually hot. And so they have a mechanism that allows them to jump around on that asteroid.

They go up to about 15 meters off of the surface and stay up in -- above it for up to about 15 minutes. And what they are looking for, they are looking for organic compounds and other measurements in addition to the great pictures that they're sending back.

So it is exciting because, you know, a few years ago, the European space agency sent Rosetta to comet 67p. And the lander that went down onto the comet found signs of organic chemicals, including the existence of one of the amino acids, a basic building block to DNA, which is a basic building block to life.


ALLEN: Just a little bit of life inside that asteroid. We'll be finding out more about it when those robots come back in 2020.

HOWELL: It is so fascinating that we can even do that.

ALLEN: I know, it is hard to comprehend.

Thank you for watching. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. For the viewers around the world, the CNN special "Rally Team" is coming up. You're watching CNN, the world's news leader.